A mayoral candidate and longtime anti-LGBT activist has been arrested and charged with spray-painting "666" on two gay landmarks in Dallas.
Richard Sheridan (below), 66, who is running for mayor in May, is charged with vandalizing the Legacy of Love Monument (above) and the Cathedral of Hope (below) last June.
The monument, in the heart of Dallas' gayborhood, and the church — known as the world's largest LGBT congregation — were among 12 sites in the city vandalized with "the number of the beast" in red paint.
However, Sheridan thus far is charged in only two of the incidents. A grand jury indicted Sheridan for a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years behind bars. If prosecutors treat the case as an anti-gay hate crime, the charges could be enhanced to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The Dallas Morning News reports:
In August, police told The Dallas Morning News that Sheridan was the only person who’d been questioned in the case. Sheridan maintained he didn’t do it: “I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty,” he told our Tristan Hallman on August 14 in the lobby of Dallas police headquarters. But Sheridan said he knew who did — and that he agreed with the tags. He also said that despite what police were saying, the tags were “not a hate crime [but] an act of love — and a warning.”
Sheridan, who frequently distributes anti-gay leaflets around Dallas City Hall and has been escorted out of council chambers more than once, took to his Facebook page last summer to admit to having been interviewed twice. He insisted he was merely “representing the person who did it.” In an open letter to Dallas police on August 2, Sheridan claimed that the person who actually tagged the locations “recognizes that there are some in the Gay community, the rabid faction, that wants vengence [sic], wants a ‘scalp’, wants to hang him out to dry, wants to send a message across Dallas and the Nation that (if they get their way) this is what will happen to anyone who dares to call out the immorality of the Gay lifestyle, to reference the Bible in saying that the Gay community is violating Gods laws.”
More from NBCDFW.com:
“At no time did he admit to being the person that committed these offenses, but he also did not deny that to be the case either,” said assistant chief Randy Blankenberger. …
"We also believe that it is likely that Mr. Sheridan selected these locations due to their connection or significant to the LGBT community," Blankenberger said. …
"These types of crime, that appear to be targeting people based on their sexual orientation or because of their race or religion, those types of crimes are important to the police department to solve," Blankenberger said. "So we can send a message that everyone is inclusive in the police community."
Watch NBCDFW.com's report, AFTER THE JUMP…